Do You Rule Your Business? The Importance of Leadership
Posted on 18th May 2017 in The Forecast
Written by Freya Hughes
From the Queen to the President, there are various different roles of authority across the world. You’re more likely to see the former hosting heads of state and taking diplomatic trips than you are seeing her making parliamentary decisions, yet she’s still popular in the eyes of the public. The latter, as we know, is responsible for the free world, and responsibility can make you more than unpopular at times. Let’s delve into the different types of leader and how they impact their staff or teams, be it positively or not.
Thinking back to history lessons at school, many of us will draw a blank. Hours of our lives spent learning about long-dead political figures during our teens probably isn’t the best way to get people to invest their interest in a subject. I personally remember countless hours learning about the UK’s many kings and queens but not really engaging with the information I was being presented with. It is interesting, however, to study the different ways these monarchs kept their subordinates under control. Humanity has a knack for not learning from its mistakes, so let’s examine the ways people lead others, and how leadership styles and techniques have been developed throughout time.
It’s not personal, it’s business…or so they say
Core leadership styles are widely accepted in business and by scholars. There are three styles which were coined by the man considered to be the founder of modern social psychology – Kurt Lewin. In 1939 he and his team laid out the three essential types of leadership: authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire.
“Autocratic managers can squelch employee morale and motivation when they are too controlling. Low morale and poor job satisfaction can impede a culture of collaboration.” – Neil Kokemuller for Smallbusiness.chron.com
As human beings, we’re hardwired to be social animals. We thrive on collaboration and our tribal roots prove that. Historically, we’ve fought and survived in groups so seeking a diverse team will translate into fresh ideas and problem-solving tactics. In the present day, we’re lucky enough to have systems in place to protect us as individuals and societies. This must translate into your business as your team are arguably your biggest asset. With this in mind, how can you get through to your staff what your objectives are and get them on-side to achieve your goals working with you, not for you? Let’s explore which of the three leadership styles is the most successful.
Are you the king or queen of your business?
Look inwards at yourself. Do you run your business fairly as an elected official should, or are you relying on your birthright (or owner status) to do as you please? Ask yourself how you’d endure a leader of each type. It’s likely you’d prefer a democratic environment if you were working under someone else, so embrace it for your business.
Democratic leaders tend to be the most successful. They’ll listen to their team as equals, even though the proverbial ‘buck’ stops with them. Known to give guidance and support to staff, these leaders often get the most productivity out of their staff they feel valued and nurtured. As we’ve discovered, team engagement starts at the top. Your team are looking to you to guide the way. “Sometimes being liked and admired helps propel a person to the top,” states The NY Times. This gives way to presenting yourself as an equal to your team – you’re only human and you can (and will) make mistakes. This is relatable so the chances are, you’ll be more respected if you can hold your hands up. This sentiment is backed up by Hajra Rahim, writing for The Telegraph: “It’s also about being yourself, but being open to the idea of self-improvement.” So allow your team to teach you, too. It’s all about coming together to produce services or products that nobody else can, so make the most of your team’s talent.
As time goes by, the majority of the work force will be millennials. It’s this younger section of society who favour a more collaborative and flexible working week, therefore traditional authoritarian styles of leading are becoming unfashionable. Performance psychologist Dr Jim Taylor has worked with sports teams and parents for a long while now so knows a thing or two about leadership. He writes for The Huffington Post, “I would argue […] that talking about styles has little value because we are incapable of leading in a way that is inconsistent with who we are as people.” From this we can understand that leadership is fundamentally linked to our personalities, therefore must come from empathy. If a manager or business owner is unable to connect on a personal level to employees, then, how can they be a successful driving force in the business?
How do you need to lead your team?
While yelling at people for stepping a toe out of line may seem like an appealing way to relieve stress, it will not get you anywhere fast with your team. Think of that angry teacher of yours at school who would lose their rag at the smallest of things – you didn’t want to grow up to be them! We understand it can be incredibly frustrating when things aren’t going smoothly, but a key part of problem solving is being able to remain level headed.
When trying to appeal to a group of people, you must keep in mind that they’ve come together from varied backgrounds and will have diverse personalities. Some essential traits of a brilliant manager include:
- Strong communication
- Respectful attitude towards others, regardless of position in the business
Don’t become swamped by your work load. Delegation is a great art and you need to learn to do it if you haven’t already. Things as simple as setting up your managers on your financial systems, for example, exudes trust and will give them a better understanding of where you’re going with your business. Dishing out tasks for your team will free up your time and make for a more engaged staff as they’ll feel responsible and the more confidence you have in them, the more they’ll have in you.
“A ruler should be slow to punish and swift to reward.” – Ovid